Nina: Nana, Nana. I had an interesting civics lesson today.
Nana: Aren’t all your lessons online now?
Nina: Of course. Listen, do you know how many types of democracies are out there?
Nana: What do you mean? Democracy is just the will of people.
Nina: There are so many different types of democracy based on values. For example, direct democracy, participatory democracy and deliberative democracy are designed to allow people to participate equally and directly in protest, discussion, decision-making, or other acts of politics. Others like representative democracy strive for indirect participation to collective self-governance as the only efficient means for decision making.
Nana: Why can’t everything be direct?
Nina: Can you imagine direct democracy in a country like India? Imagine a billion people voting on every single piece of governmental action. Switzerland is the only country in the world to have instances of direct democracy at local levels of the government. The ancient Athens government was said to practice direct democracy as well.
Nana: Ok, ok.
Nina: A country like India is a multi party democracy with hundreds of political parties operating at district, state and federal levels of government across the country while a country like the US operates a two party system with either the republican or democratic party holding different levels of power in local, state and federal levels.
Nana: Isn’t a multi party democracy a better way for giving more choice to the populace?
Nina: Well, yes and no. Yes, in the instances that any of these parties may have a unipolar or multi polar objectives or policy aims that may meet the moment but they can be unwieldy in exercising the power if votes are split among too many parties and there is a huge governing coalition. This was the norm in India in the 90’s and the first decade of the new millenium.
On the other hand, a two party democracy is much more stable in terms of a governing coalition and in getting things done. This doesn’t mean there aren’t any diverse opinions. For eg, the Democratic party in the US has a centrist wing and a more progressive/ liberal wing with often conflicting messaging. There is usually a middle ground for policy views to accomodate the different wings in the governing coalition.
Nana: I wonder who had the civics lesson today, you or me. Now, shoo…..
This post is a part of the #NinaAndNana series I co-host with Kanika G.